Mercury Dangers, and Recycling CFLs

Have you been stockpiling your used compact fluorescent light bulbs, long fluorescent bulbs, mercury thermometers, or old mercury thermostats? Well, stockpile no more! Bozeman has a household hazardous waste collection every month!

I’ve stockpiled bulbs for quite a while now, refusing to just throw them out because of their mercury content. CFLs, like all fluorescent lamps, contain mercury as vapor inside the glass tubing. Because mercury is poisonous, even these small amounts are a concern for landfills and waste incinerators where the mercury from lamps may be released and contribute to air and water pollution.

CFLs are good because they can use at least two-thirds less energy than standard incandescent bulbs and last up to 10 times longer (average lifespan of a CFL is five years). CFLs generate 70 percent less heat, making them safer to operate. And they can save the user $30 or more in energy costs over each bulb's lifetime. But their disposal requires more care because of the mercury inside each bulb.

Bozeman’s solid waste superintendent, Steve Johnson, says that products containing mercury can be collected together (mercury thermometers, thermostats, CFLs, etc.) and taken to the Household Hazardous Waste (HHW) collection site located at the former City Landfill (on Story Mill Road). The second Saturday of each month, 9 am to 12 pm, hazardous materials can be dropped off at the site. Saturday, January 9th, 2010 is the next available Saturday for disposing of HHW. The phone number to the scale house is 587-7890.

Tell everyone you know, and recycle your CFLs safely!

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